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Pretty little liars

Pretty little liars

The fantastical world of social media weight loss, by Niall Grieve, placement student from Ulster University.

#instahealth #magiclollipops #suckers

As a 21 year old, a lot of my time is spent bouncing back and forth between various social media apps like Instagram and Twitter. I can keep up to date on everything from new music, current affairs and the day-to-day lives of my friends and colleagues. But not everything you see online is as positive as you would like.

Pretty little liarsSo there I am scrolling through Instagram when I come across a celebrity promoting a “detox” tea to help achieve a flat stomach. A few weeks later I see a Kardashian eating a lollipop that claims to suppress your appetite with #ad in the caption. And another celebrity. And another.

I can’t help but imagine what other people see when they look at these posts. Do they realise that celebrities have access to a wealth of resources such as nutritionists, trainers and Photoshop filters to look the way they do? These celebrities may have never even used these products but are getting paid thousands of pounds to promote them!

But what is in these products that claim to help achieve that flat stomach look?

A common ingredient found in many meal replacement or weight loss shakes is Senna which the NHS lists as a laxative to treat constipation. Other products include ingredients that claim to boost your metabolism and keep you fuller for longer. However, at the bottom of their web pages, often nearly out of sight are declarations like “Results not guaranteed” and “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”. Now this certainly would make you question if these products are reliable and safe. One brand even encourages to cut back on vegetables like broccoli and cabbage as a means to control bloating!

At most, it appears such products may slightly reduce bloating and make you visit the bathroom more frequently, leading to a loss of water weight, but is it really healthy? 

In an age where more than 1 in 10 young people are affected by mental health issues, I feel like these celebrity endorsements are not doing anyone any favours. These products may teach young people unhealthy eating habits and cause feelings on guilt or anxiety surrounding food, therefore increasing the risk of potential eating disorders.

With so much misinformation out there about weight loss and dieting, social media and celebrities should be advocating a healthy lifestyle involving a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and minimally processed foods with the occasional treat, along with promoting regular physical activity.

A meal replacement shake has no part in a normal healthy diet and should only be used under the recommendation of a health care professional for specific conditions. There is no shake or supplement, pill or potion in the world that will help you look like a celebrity or sports star  or your friend or neighbour.

So remember that not everything you see online is true and just because a celebrity is promoting a miracle product, doesn’t mean it actually works or is good for you. A healthy lifestyle should be enjoyable and sustainable. So next time you see a celebrity telling you to buy a detox tea or appetite suppressing lollipop, ask yourself: "How healthy does this really sound? Do they even use this product? Or is it just all about the money?"

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